Pender Harbour’s Heather Cranston can now call herself a hall of fame athlete.
Cranston and her fellow New Westminster Doc’s Blues women’s softball teammates were recently inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
Cranston, who has lived on the Sunshine Coast for almost 10 years, recalled the team that won a silver medal at the 1978 world championships.
“It was a fantastic team — a great group of young women,” she said.
Cranston played second base and was with the Blues for 10 years. They won seven Canadian championships along the way.
The Blues lost 4-0 to the U.S. in the gold medal game at the ’78 worlds in El Salvador and has the added distinction of being the last women’s club team to represent Canada at a world championship. Following 1978, Canada formed a national team structure where players had to try out to be a part of the national team.
“In those days, women’s club softball was huge,” Cranston recalled. “We played a lot of games, travelled all over the place. After that the U.S. colleges started taking a look at the club programs and that’s when players started getting recruited for colleges on scholarships.”
Canada has sent teams to the world championships every year, but didn’t medal again until they won bronze in 2010.
“At the time you just want to win and when we won the silver, sure we were all thrilled, but we wanted to come back the next year and win gold,” she shared. “You never think at the time what an accomplishment it really is until history bears out the achievement. It’s pretty neat — to be recognized among the elite athletes in the province. You are part of the hall of fame forever.”
Cranston said team members are still in contact with each other. In fact, she produces a monthly newsletter so the players can keep track of what each one of them is up to, and they meet up frequently for reunions.
“Teams that have a unique identity and camaraderie are the ones that are successful,” she said. “I was lucky and very fortunate to be with a right group of people who had the same drive for success.”
Cranston grew up on a farm in Fort St. John and has always had a passion for sports.
“Every Sunday, we’d have a big dinner and we always played softball with the neighbours,” she said. “I started playing on a women’s team when I was 11 years old. Then I went to university at UBC and played basketball for five years. I went back to softball in the Lower Mainland when I finished university. I’ve always been a sports person either as an athlete or as a fan.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have had some great coaches and some great opportunities. Getting into the hall of fame puts a great cap on the career.”